Stranded in ORD until 3a on Christmas

Since I didn’t know my work schedule over the holidays, I booked a fairly late flight from Washington DC to Detroit.  To American Airlines’s credit, they notified me fairly early in the day that there would be a delay.  The plane flew a round-trip flight between Chicago and San Antonio before it arrived in Detroit.  The flight to San Antonio got a late start so that delayed all subsequent flights.  Unfortunately for me, American drastically underestimated the delay.  I considered Home Alone-ing it by road tripping to Detroit, but I couldn’t find a rental car in Chicago around 10p.  Also my credit card wouldn’t commit to covering the cost due to the delay, but I’ll cover that saga in another post.

flight delay

American sent me approximately ten emails with new arrival estimates.  This was one of the later emails.

The flight was originally schedule for a 9:43p (CST) departure and a 12:30a (EST) arrival. While waiting for our plane to arrive from San Antonio, the delayed flight to Little Rock (at the gate next to us) was canceled.  It took the gate attendants over an hour to find flights for the 75+ people who were hoping to spend Christmas morning in Little Rock.  We thought we saw the writing on the wall so I called the ORD Hilton to ensure that they still had rooms available that night–they did.

Flight aware

We tracked the flight from San Antonio to Chicago.  No reports of Santa though.

When our flight arrived, our departure time was schedule for 12:50a.  American had slowly increased the delay time throughout the day and given the empty first class, I imagine many of the elite fliers hopped on different flights.  The ORD Admirals Club closed at 10p so I tried to nap at the gate after it closed.  The flight crew mentioned that they had the option to cancel the flight (similar to the Little Rock flight) but decided that the show must go on.  Apparently the ground crew was not prepared for another departure so we had to wait another 90 minutes for the ground crew to refuel the plane and evenly distribute the weight between the plane’s fuel tanks.  At 4:05a (EST) I finally landed at DTW, a mere 3.5 hours later than originally anticipated.  We had to wait for a gate attendant to connect the plane to the gate.  Thankfully my father was flexible and could pick me up at this unfortunate hour.


Our family Christmas tree is small but mighty.

I met several new friends and we celebrated Christmas’ at midnight EST and CST, so we technically celebrated twice.  American offered an Exec. Plat. member on my flight 4,000 miles as compensation for the delay.  I haven’t called American yet but I expect to receive similar compensation.

Was anyone else stranded Christmas Eve?

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